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Asking for Donations & Community Support During COVID-19

Your hospital, clinic, or health system needs support. Your community wants to help. Learn how to effectively communicate with them during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. is stretching healthcare resources. Make it easy for people to support your organization’s areas of greatest need in the way that works best for them.

Communities are galvanizing around their hospitals and healthcare providers, looking for opportunities to support the people and services on the pandemic front lines and behind the scenes. Use clear, strategic content to help prospective donors understand how they can assist your organization.

Why Do People Donate Time, Talents & Funds?

The fundamentals of inviting support still apply during the pandemic. Help people understand why your organization is the best choice for their donation. According to the Network for Good, reasons donors give include:

  • Belief in mission
  • Credibility and transparency of organization
  • Financial/tax benefits
  • Ongoing engagement and gratitude from organization
  • Personal benefit and desire to make a difference
  • Social networking
  • Statistics, facts, and human stories

Best Practices for COVID-19 Donation Communications

Engage with your community by developing content that focuses on the concerns of your users. Aim to:

  • Answer common donor and volunteer questions. Ask your organization’s philanthropy staff, volunteer coordinators, and, ideally, engaged donors and volunteers themselves what their concerns are during this time, and how those concerns may impact their giving.
  • Be as transparent as possible. Transparency is the cornerstone of crisis communication and reflects your brand’s trustworthiness.
  • Express thanks and celebrate giving publicly, whenever possible. Tell stories about the impact of donations and volunteers, and publicize them in your content marketing channels (social media, email, blog, etc.).
  • Inspire community spirit and local pride. Motivate readers to feel part of something bigger than themselves by supporting an organization that serves as the cornerstone of keeping your community healthy.
  • Explain all ways to give, especially to areas of urgent need, and include a call to action. Communicate the options someone has to support your organization, whether that’s through a financial gift, blood donation, personal protective equipment (PPE) donation, or another method. Make sure online giving is as streamlined and easy as possible.
  • Highlight the work your organization is doing to care for those affected by the virus or support care providers. Tell your healthcare provider and patient stories through your website content, content marketing efforts, and interactions with local and regional media.
  • Target specific audience segments. Depending on the needs of your organization, consider developing blog posts or email marketing campaigns aimed at engineers, crafters, restaurants or caterers, nonprofits, churches, or other types of giving organizations in your area.

Make your writing and editorial processes as smooth as possible by following Geonetric’s guidelines for managing your content during a crisis .

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Medical Gear & Other Supplies

Many organizations are looking to the community for donations of equipment like masks, safety goggles, and other protective gear. Your nursing staff may be taking a cue from Kaiser Permanente and considering baby monitors to communicate with inpatients while minimizing physical contact. Or you may be running low on critical cleaning supplies or thermometers.

Your community can be a source of the everyday household supplies your staff may need. In your content:

  • Explain what items you can accept and which you can’t, being as specific as possible
  • Tell people what their donations will be used for
  • Specify any requirements of the donation (cleaned or sanitized following a certain procedure, sent via mail or picked up by hospital staff, etc.)

Highlight Community Connectedness

When applicable, recognize the needs of other organizations serving your community. In addition to providing clear information about needed items and how to donate them, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics notes which items they are not able to accept, and links to other local organizations able to receive them.

Calling All Crafters

Many health systems, including Avera Health, a health system based in South Dakota, have published instructions for crafters to make cloth masks for patients and staff.

Follow Avera’s example when you request homemade items by spelling out:

  • What the item will be used for
  • Step-by-step instructions in written or video format (or both)
  • Supplies needed to make the item and possible substitutions
  • How to prepare the item for delivery and use
  • How and where to deliver the item

Food Donations

List guidelines your organization follows around food donations. While you may not be able to accept homemade or shareable foods from individuals, your organization can support your local restaurants and caterers experiencing lost revenue due to the pandemic. Consider encouraging individuals or businesses to raise funds to purchase meals for healthcare providers.

Stamford Health in Connecticut makes it clear the types of food donations they’re able to accept and why, guiding readers through the process of donation.

Financial Donations in the Time of Coronavirus

Lost salary or other income means not everyone can give financially at this time. And those who continue to receive their prepandemic income may be less comfortable giving due to the global economic recession.

Make it clear donors can earmark their gift to COVID-19-related care. Be transparent about financial pressures and concerns your organization is facing. Ask sustaining donors to continue their ongoing giving during this time or, if they’re able, to increase their gift amount.

To make up for donations lost due to cancelled in-person fundraising events, your organization’s foundation may ask your community to host virtual fundraisers for monetary gifts, medical supplies, meals for staff, or other needs. Support the effectiveness of these campaigns using social media. Within five years of Facebook launching fundraising tools for charities and personal causes, almost 50 million people have participated, raising $2 billion dollars.

Read the Room

Make it clear to community members who are unable to give that your organization understands and empathizes. Give these people other ways to support your organization, such as volunteering or submitting well wishes on an online “Thank You” page.

Volunteer Engagement

Hospital visitor and volunteer policies have changed at many organizations to help prevent the spread of the outbreak. Communicate changes to your policies and ways volunteers can still support your organization and continue to engage.

When publicizing volunteer opportunities, make sure your content includes:

  • Detailed information about eligibility when calling for specific skills, such as healthcare experience
  • What volunteers can expect if they come onsite, such as what COVID-19 screening procedures are in place for blood donors, volunteer cleaners, or volunteer child care providers

Add Us to Your Team

Count on Geonetric for guidance and services to support your team’s response to COVID-19. We’re in this together. Explore our content, strategy, and digital marketing COVID-19 online resources.

Stella Hart

Senior Web Writer and Content Strategist

Asking for Donations & Community Support During COVID-19